Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Flour Sack Towels – Here’s an Excellent One


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A couple weeks ago, we chatted a little bit about flour sack towels used for hand embroidery and other crafts, discussing their uses, history, and resources for good ones.

Today, I’m following up on that article with a review of what I think just might be the Best Flour Sack Towel for hand embroidery. I sorely wish I had found these a long time ago!

So let’s look at this fabulous cotton towel and I’ll tell you why I think it ranks right up there as the Best Flour Sack Towel for hand embroidery (so far in my explorations, anyway!).

Best flour sack towels for embroidery

The towels I’m focusing on today from Mary’s Kitchen (no affiliation).

When my pack of towels arrived in the mail, admittedly, it languished a couple days before I opened it. Eventually, I caught up with it, though, and decided to get it opened and the contents situated. And lo! What did I hold in my hand, but the most pleasant surprise of the week!

Immediately, I was prepared to like the towels.

Three things in the feel and look of the towels told me I’d like them:

  • They are bright white.
  • They don’t have that characteristic wobbly surface that you often see on flour sack towels.
  • They are very neatly hemmed.

I would soon discover a few more details that endear the towels to me.

Best flour sack towels for embroidery

The finishing on each towel is quite nice, for a $2 cotton towel.

There’s a twill corner loop for hanging. There are very few wisps and threads emerging from the sewing on the edges – the hems are really neatly done, crisp, and straight. The towels are square – they iron up in a nice, neat square, without the folds and ridges often found on other flour sack towels.

The fabric itself is not super thick – it’s about the thickness you’d expect from a typical flour sack towel.

But the “hand” – the surface feel of the fabric as you run your hand over it – is nice and smooth.

And the fabric is consistent. I haven’t come across thin patches on any of the towels that I’ve worked with so far (I’ve washed and ironed about half of them.)

Best flour sack towels for embroidery

Perhaps one of the things I like best about the towels is the embroidery experience on to surface of them.

They hoop up really well. You can pull them nice and taut in your embroidery hoop, and there are no irregular dips and valleys to accommodate and no inordinate stretchiness to the fabric. Sure, there’s a little bit of stretch on the bias, but compared to most flour sack towels available on the market today, these hoop up firm and taut with very little effort – and they stay that way while you stitch!

And finally, I like the size. They are 27″ square, which makes them a nice size – fairly large, but not huge, and perfect for hanging on a hook or a stove handle.

Best flour sack towels for embroidery

Now, keep in mind that flour sack towels are not really an expensive, luxury towel. They are inexpensive cotton towels – these clock in at about $2/towel – and they really are meant for kitchen work.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be embroidered and made pretty! I love them for gift giving (they make great basket liners for hostess gifts around holidays, for wedding showers, and the like). And I love them just to use in my own kitchen.

I always embroider them with the intention of being able to throw them in the laundry, too. Yes, they might fade over time with regular laundering, but that’s just the nature of the flour sack towel. They’re made to be used.

Where to Find Them

You can find these particular flour sack towels from Mary’s Kitchen here, if you’re looking for a source for well-made, bright white, square flour sack towels.

You can also purchase them for the same price through my Amazon recommendations page here.

If you’re thinking ahead to hand-made Christmas presents, these would be nice with a little holiday accent in the corner.

For example, for something large and holiday-ish, this free boughs of holly corner design would be a nice touch. Or any one or several of my Twelve Trees for Christmas situated on the edge or in the corner would look great, too!

I’ll be posting the floral corner design and stitch guide that I’m using in the photos above soon!

Hope your week’s off to a great start!

This article contains an affiliate link to my Amazon recommendations page, which means Needle โ€˜n Thread receives a small kickback for purchases made through that link. Thanks!


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(30) Comments

  1. I love the idea of giving them as Christmas gifts. I am a beginner at embroidery, how would I make sure that the design will not unravel as it is used and washed? Do you use a knot or just the usual whipping under the thread?

    Thanks a lot. I truly enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Hi, Mary – you can start with a knot, but I usually start a thread using this method: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2008/09/starting-your-thread-anchor-stitches-on.html When I end a thread, I whip it around the stitches on the back (about four or five times, depending on the space) and then I might hitch through a half knot of sorts to secure it, depending on the use and type of embroidery. I’ve never had a problem with threads coming out due to laundering or use or anything like that.

  2. I would personally infinitely prefer a rectangular towel. Square says cleaning cloth, not drying cloth to me – at best, bread cloth, but I weave those plus we don’t eat bread anymore so not very useful in our household ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve sent the company a message to ask them to consider making rectangular towels. Maybe others who feel the same way could do it as well? I’m not so good at machine sewing otherwise I’d consider cutting and rehemming the square towels to suit my tastes ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, the lack of criss-crossing textural lines (called “tracking” by handweavers”) in a plain weave cloth is the result of unbalanced threads used in the weaving. If single-ply, there’s lots of extra spinning twist – which makes the thread stronger, but also harder and less absorbent. If the thread is plied, tracking means the plying twist isn’t balanced with the plying twist, leaving the same issues. The excess twist energy sort of rises to the surface when the cloth is exposed to water, either washing or steaming. Presumably Mary’s Kitchen towels are made with higher-quality thread that’s better balanced than most such products.


  3. Thanks for this nice resource, Mary. Flour sack towels qualify as World’s Most Relaxing Embroidery in my book–no stress fun with charming outcome! I hope your retreat was refreshing and that the summer classes are delighting the novice hoopers.
    Blessings on your day,

  4. Mary, I was waiting for this review. I found Mary’s Kitchen Towels online about 6 months ago. I wanted to have something that I could embroider and give as gifts or just for myself. All the reviews I have read were positive. Your review is what I needed to find out how they work with hand-embroidery. Thank you.

  5. Thank you for such a detailed review! These look really nice, and I’d love to try them – but the Amazon source doesn’t appear to ship to the UK and shipping if available tends to be horrendously expensive anyway ๐Ÿ™ – would you know of any reliable UK or European sources?

    1. I can’t find these towels on Amazon, so I’m not sure where you’re finding them. The link above goes directly to Mary’s Kitchen. I would imagine that in the UK or Europe, you have specific companies that manufacturer or sell similar cotton towels. Unfortunately, I can’t track down every company that makes them around the world, or I’d love to put together a comprehensive list of where people can find them in their own regions. But I imagine you can search online and find some company that’s relatively local that makes them. If anyone else in the UK has suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment, too!

    2. Thanks Mary – I realise it’s not feasible for you to look up every supplier, but as this brand is obviously very good I was hoping to find it in the UK. I can find flour sack towels, but haven’t got a clue how good or bad they are ๐Ÿ™‚ ! I can’t think why I thought it was Amazon; did I get there through your affiliate page first? Oh well, one of the mysteries of the internet. but if other UK dwellers have any info about good flour sact towels, I’d really appreciate it!

    3. I finally found the product on Amazon, too! It took me a little digging for some reason. I hope that some folks in the UK might know of a similar soft cotton towel that is used the same way and will pipe in with some information for you.

  6. Just ordered per your recommendation! I love flour sack towels and had liked your former favorite. The nice thing about Mary’s towels is free shipping!! Always a plus.
    Looking forward to trying them out…btw…LOVE your new classroom setup and your posts about the kids’ classes…without classes like this, many of our handcrafts might have died out. There’s nothing better than passing this on to the next generation.

  7. Dear Mary

    The flour sack towels look like a really good quality teatowel and I like the hook at the back for hanging and as you have shown they look lovely embroidered and would make nice presents. It is such a shame that they are not available in the UK. Thanks for sharing with us your review on Mary’s Kitchen Flour Sack Towels and for the links above. Enjoy your week.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  8. I am so glad you posted this today. Over the years I have collected vintage type days of the week embroidered towels at estate sales. Most have been stitched on old feed sack fabric. The reason I collected them was to use the embroidered areas to make wall hangings. Well, that never happened. The embroidery on a few of the sets is excellent and I think they were probably made as gifts. I hesitate to use them but I hate the thought of them being folded up in plastic containers in my basement. I feel the women who made them wanted them to be used because the unembroidered areas are large. Would you use them?

    1. Well, if you donโ€™t use them, where are they? Are they just stored in a drawer? Maybe you can at least hang them in the kitchen for decoration? Personally, I would use them because that is what they are made for. They are not likely to be heirloom items of any value, so it makes sense I think to enjoy the pleasure of using them.

  9. As always, Mary, thank you for this review (and all of your instructive, amusing, and just plain wonderful emtries). I immediately went to the site and ordered the towels to embroider. They will be great things to have on hand whenever a gift is needed.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been looking for a new flour sack towel source. Just made my purchase and with free shipping I am thrilled.

  11. I’m wondering if flower sack towels are a specific American item? Even in leo.org (an online dictionary) someone asked what that is, and no one knew exactly. One user guessed it’s burlap (Germ. “Sackleinen”), but it isn’t. I know they are white kitchen towels made of cotton (read your recent story on the subject), but when I google kitchen or dish towels in German, I find the usual squared or striped ones or, if they are plain white, they’re made of half linen.

    Angela from the Ore Mountains

    1. Hi, Angela โ€“ yes, if you read the history that I posted in the previous article on flour sack towels, they were a popular item especially during the depression in the USA. They were an affordable alternative to other fabric. They have remained popular, more for the fact that they are highly absorbent and practically lint free.

  12. Thanks for the review – I love flour sack towels also but have noticed the variation in quality you mentioned. I will definitely be ordering me some of these.


  13. I have to say, the fact that they iron out into lovely squares sold me. I HATE when you buy napkins/towels/tray clothes/etc and they are wonky and not quite plum. It is very annoying and of course you would never want to spend time and effort decorating something that will never look nice, no matter what. I will absolutely give these towels a try. I also love the hook loop. It keeps away that annoying pokey part you get when your towels dry on a hook without a loop.

  14. Happy to have this link and your recommendation, Mary. I’ve already ordered a pack. I ordered a different pack a month or so ago, and the edges are so crooked I haven’t been able to make myself do anything but wash them. If I know anything about your recommendations, this new pack will be more inspiring. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks a bunch!

  15. I took your advice, and sent off for the flour sack towels from Mary’s Kitchen.
    They got here fast, and I like the looks and feel of them. Hope to get some embroidered
    for Christmas Presents. Thanks!

  16. Thanks for this recommendation. I purchased a set of of her flour sacks and they were just as good as you said.

    Iโ€™m wondering, is there such a thing as a flour sack table cloth? How does one create a table cloth to match the flour sack casual napkins?

    1. Hi, Margaret – I think you would have to just source the cotton fabric and make one yourself. Whether or not you can get the exact fabric is a different question. I would probably look for white Osnaburg fabric. You’ll want to make sure that it’s 100% cotton (there are some places at there that sell blends). And I imagine that there are different degrees of quality. But it’s a really inexpensive soft cotton fabric, like the fabric used to make flour sack towels. Hope that helps!

  17. Hi Mary
    I’ve had a number of my pattern customers asking about tea towels and I plan to refer to your recommendation in my next newsletter. I’d like to include the link to your Amazon recommendations page, but am getting an error message. This is the URL: https://www.amazon.com/shop/marycorbet. Is there an updated affiliate link I can use?
    Thanks, Kelly

    1. Hi, Kelly – the URL works from this end, so I’m not sure why it’s coming up as an error. Grrr. For organizational purposes, I split that page under two sections, recommendations for books and a section for tools & accessories. The towels are under the tools & accessories list, here: https://www.amazon.com/shop/marycorbet?listId=2Q3WIJX3NT4D9 I hope that link works. I haven’t tried these again in a while. It seems that towel manufacturers are constantly changing their sources or their base materials. Every time I get happy with a towel source, the next thing I know, something changes about the towel. But they were good when I first started using them, and I think they still get decent reviews. Hope that helps!

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